Students support

by Chris Vetter

University students served as delegates and volunteers at the DFL and Republican state conventions that voted on candidate endorsements for the U.S. Senate seat up for election this November.
Democrats almost unanimously endorsed incumbent Paul Wellstone at their convention Saturday, but the Republicans did not settle on a candidate at their convention a week and a half ago.
Wellstone’s seat is considered to be a must-win for both national parties: the Republican party has targeted Wellstone’s seat as one they can win; and the Democratic party needs to hold on to the seat to boost chances of regaining Senate control, which they lost in 1994.
The state Republican party held its statewide convention May 30 and 31 in Duluth. In its vote to support a party candidate for the U.S. Senate, no one received the 60 percent needed for endorsement.
An endorsement gives party money to the winning candidate, as well as a list of party members to use in campaign fund-raising. The Republicans will choose a candidate to run against Wellstone in their Sept. 10 state primary.
The Democratic convention, held Saturday in St. Paul, went more smoothly, although it didn’t start out that way. Initially, the convention was to be held in Rochester, but after the City Council voted to accept a proposal from a non-union contractor to expand Mayo Civic Center Auditorium, the DFL declared a boycott and moved the convention to St. Paul.
Wellstone was endorsed on a voice vote with overwhelming support. “The support for him is huge,” said U-DFL member Joe Delaney, a University senior and a convention delegate.
The DFL convention featured party members waving green and white signs supporting Wellstone.
Bert McKasy entered the Republican convention as the favorite for endorsement, said University senior Orlando Ochoada, a member of the College Republicans and a McKasy campaign worker. However, both McKasy and former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz had strong support at the convention, though neither got the endorsement.
College of Liberal Arts senior Harry Frankman said Boschwitz is considered to be the frontrunner for the GOP primary. He has more money and name recognition, and his list of supporters includes Gov. Arne Carlson, U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad and State House Minority Leader Steve Sviggum.
University junior Dave Mortensen, a member of College Republicans and a convention delegate, disagrees that Boschwitz is leading the Republican race.
“If you go with informed decisions of the delegates, McKasy is the frontrunner,” Mortensen said.
College Republican Vice Chairman Bill Gilles said his group is solidly behind McKasy and no other candidate. He said 10 group members attended the convention and worked on McKasy’s campaign.
“I support him because he is the only candidate that can beat Wellstone,” Gilles said. “Rudy lost to him with seven times the cash and all the power. Now, he has less than half the money compared to Wellstone.”
Not all statewide College Republican organizations are supporting McKasy. Ochoada said groups at St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota-Duluth have strong Boschwitz supporters.